‘India is the only country that elevated Kama to a goal of life and had a god for desires”, quipped Gurcharan Das who was discussing about his latest book ‘Kama: A Riddle of Desire’. The book is the third in his trilogy of life’s goals. The first two books were ‘India Unbound’ and ‘The Difficulty of Being Good’. When Shoba Narayan, an author and columnist who was in discussion with Gurcharan asked him about why he wrote this on desires, he remarked that he was disturbed by three things in our country – Poverty, Corruption, and Desire, which formed the basis of his three books.
The book is a fictional narrative that forays into the world of desires and has an intriguing cover with five flowers. Gurcharan explained that white lotus indicates the first state of desire or fascination for each other. The second flower, a red Ashoka indicates the stage when they decide on their liking for each other, the jasmine indicates the intimacy which is the third stage, the blue lotus indicates the stage when the desire has waned off and the last one stands for death.
The protagonist of his new book Amar is at the fourth stage when all desires in life has waned away. The story begins when Amar meets Maya on a train journey and considers the consequences of starting an affair with her. According to Amar, having an affair would mean failing in Dharma or his duty towards his wife and not having one would mean failing in his duty towards himself, because Kama is one’s duty towards oneself.
According to the author, Kama can strike early in one’s life and the same way, it can strike early in a civilization as well. As per the Bible, at first there was light, but as per Indian civilization, there was desire. He dwelled briefly upon the story of Brahma and Sandhya and also the story of Prajapati and how all the beings came into existence. The book also brings stories of desires from Mahabharata. While talking about Kama optimism and pessimism, Gurcharan remarked how the Buddhist and Jain texts celebrate the ones who renunciate or sacrifice as hero thereby favouring a Kama-Pessimist approach. However, according to him, the current generation has reached a Kama-Realist state.
The author who also went on to talk about how Kamasutra isn’t a book about sexual positions but a book of manners. He believes that India is at the cusp of history thanks to the recent landmark judgements from the Supreme court. “India achieved its political independence in 1947, economic independence in 1991, but 2018 is probably the year for sexual independence”, concluded Gurcharan.
About the Author – Jeevanayagi Ganapathy is Founder Editor and Writer at Bookstalkist.